An update and things coming together

It’s all pretty amazing when things start coming together. I mean, you plot, you plan and you dream and you try and cram the plotting, planning and dreaming into reality, dodging around obstacles like time, money, weather, differing ideas, legal requirements and everything else and you hope to come up with a workable situation that hasn’t strayed too far from your first inspired musings.

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Heidi, grandfather and Aunt Dete hurrying away

My initial dreams involved up to 5 acres, an eco friendly house built by my own two hands, robust and healthy children who look liked they had escaped from Heidi, friendly animals, beautifully landscaped (but not rigid) gardens and fresh produce pouring from their richly composted soil. The reality is a little different.

We have a 1/2 acre, the house was not built by my own two hands although I have had a lot of input into the design and materials used and we have been as eco friendly as the budget allowed for (low VOC paints, woolen carpets over recycled fibre underlay and LED lights). My children don’t have the plump legs and ruddy complexions of Heidi fame but they are healthy and happy and sporting somewhat of a tan, testament to their enjoyment of outdoor life. Our animals aren’t quite as keen on us as we are on them but Milly and Molly are getting more comfortable although Mandy still keeps her distance. The baby chicks are well acclimatised to children as they are picked up and carted around by the kids for a couple of hours each day and the silkies are fast becoming favourites (Mrs Silverpants was replaced last night along with her companion Dandelion the white silkie and Goldie or Gold Star the golden silkie). The baby chicks are used to being handled by us too although they still peg it during the day (we go out each night to make sure they’re either sleeping in a nesting box or on the perch which they’ve finally figured out last night too). The gardens are not the verdant oases I dreamed of and their soil, although rich, is not as rotted down as I had dreamed. It’s getting there now though. We do have crops coming along nicely too. I have 2 zucchinis that will be ready in the next day or 2 (they’re taking longer I think due to the still un-rotted garden beds) and my corn are flowering and I can see the beginning of corn cobs. πŸ˜€ My watermelons won’t make harvest this year but I will try transferring them even though they hate it. I have nothing to lose at this stage. My tomatoes are still coming along in the garden too. I live in fear of possums discovering them but we appear to have few of those thieving little blighters around thankfully. My broccoli are doing much better since I got up close and personal with them, rubbing the underside of their leaves and squishing all the caterpillar eggs (or are they butterfly eggs – defined by what they hatch into or what lays them?) and caterpillars of the (presumably) coddling moths that had turned their leaves into fine green lace. They still look a little lacy but much happier. My onions haven’t even made it to pickled onion stage sadly but then again I never really expected them to. 😦

The greenhouse garden

The greenhouse garden, marked out with sticks and some used chicken straw for nutrients. I will mulch it when the seedlings are up more. Thanks for the idea Narf. πŸ™‚

But it’s the greenhouse I am most amazed with and proud of in our garden. It’s a Sproutwell greenhouse built from a kit I bought off eBay (they also have a website and the price is the same) and the garden beds I built myself using corrugated iron and hardwood corner posts. The hardwood we already had and the iron, bought from my uncle, makes each bed cost $1.50! WIN! Anyway, I’ve built 3 beds in there and filled and planted 1 of them. I transplanted the tomatoes from the second martie bed as they were very small and not going to make harvest before the frost arrived so I had nothing to lose. I planted my mandarin, banana and lemon trees in there first, then the transplanted tomatoes and transplanted marigolds in there, some beans planted down the side, transplanted capsicums, rocket seeds between them, then planted carrot and radish seeds, some spinach seeds, leek seeds, coriander seeds, transplanted chives and also chive seeds. So far the chive seeds are the only ones I haven’t seen a sprout from yet. I also transplanted in a pumpkin that popped up from seeds I’d scooped out of a pumpkin around Christmas time and planted out mid January. So, although it’s not yet that verdant oasis, it is well on its way to being a nifty little food garden.


Capsicums and radishes

A bean

A bean

Carrot wisps :)

Carrot wisps πŸ™‚



Capsicums and rocket

Capsicums and rocket with a tomato and the beans in the background. The carrots are near the icy-pole stick.

Nice mangel wurzels πŸ˜‰

I’ve also bought some more interesting seeds – mangel wurzels which are like turnips but they get HEAPS bigger and if harvested small they’re good for human consumption or if left to grow out, great for cattle and chickens. I wanted to try them just because I can! I’ve also finally sourced some black carrot seeds (purple/black inside and out and amazing for antioxidants), kale, rainbow chard and some other bits and bobs. I’m planning some BIG gardens over winter. πŸ˜€ And speaking of winter gardens, I’ve started building the garden beds to go in. The existing beds will be raked up to fill the new ones and they’re a little shorter but I can double the amount of beds, greatly increasing planting area overall. I am eagerly awaiting Autumn now, something I NEVER thought I would say. πŸ™‚

But the most fun of all is that Ignisa and I are starting to work together. We’ve had some veryΒ unseasonablyΒ cold weather this last week and Ignisa, our lovely Gourmet Cooker has been alight for about 44 hours although she’s been resting for the last hour or 2 but I’m getting cold again so reckon it’s time to fire her up again.. We need to organise some hardwood to burn (if anyone local has any they’re getting rid of or selling…?) but in the meantime we have been able to make do with our existing poplar stocks which isΒ marvelousΒ that we can use them up. πŸ™‚ We also had a little bit of plum from a tree that we chopped down after it died at Spotswood. I started off by bringing in our old DVD shelves and then arranged them in such as way as to make a surround or frame for the stove. I’ve now got some space for trinkets, wood, kindling and fire lighting paper. The lamps came out and look lovely too, bringing some pleasant ambiance to the room. The fire guard, half of our playpen is doing duty as a fire guard and at night it makes a great clothesrack too once stoo up on it’s ends. πŸ˜€ Multitasking and repurposing at its best. πŸ™‚ I’ve done some cooking with Ignisa too. πŸ˜€ I cooked a compete meal on her the other evening, spuds in the oven and then fried off the bacon in aΒ fry panΒ on top and breakfast this morning was homemade sourdough English muffins cooked on Ignisa and a hot chocolate made with her heat too – another complete meal. πŸ™‚ I also baked bread in her belly the other night but the oven was a wee bit hot (like 350C rather than 200C required). Should be fine once I carve off the top inch. lol

3 bookshelves arranged just so

3 bookshelves arranged just so


English muffins and hot chocolate – this mornings breakfast



I also did some more unpacking – DVD’s away (not that they will see much use given the lack of tv), my crystal radio set up and working (I need to find a better station with some music although ABC news radio is ok too), and I’ve been knitting away getting clothes ready for winter. The kids each have a new hat and I’ve made a scarf for Orik too. I need to source some more yarn to make Allegra a scarf so it’s time to dig into the stash. I also knitted my first dishcloth using this pattern and I’m happy with how it’s come out. Now to test it and see how it works.

Our food is improving on a weekly, if not daily basis. I’ve committed to making sourdough pasta using this recipe so we are slowly using up our normal pasta which I can’t eat and once it’s gone, that’s it. We’re now drinking real milk, our veggie box arrives each week from Highland Heritage (I highly recommend contacting them if you’re local and interested as their produce is first rate) and I’ve started culturing milk too – milk kefir is like super dooper yakult and it tasted a HEAP better as well as being heaps better for you. Google kefir if you’re interested. I just don’t know enough about it at this stage other than to say it’s very good for you and not unpleasant to taste.

Bertha was also split and fattened up and her daughter, Agnetha has gone to her new home. Bertha will be fed and split again and posted this week to The Eco Mum and Narf so you should see some mail coming your way soon ladies. I had planned to post it today but I haven’t fed her or her babies enough for the rigors of travel. πŸ™‚


My Bertha, Agnetha her daughter and the tub with my bread in it at the bottom of the picture.

A Dexter. Photo is not such a good one of the cow but gives a brilliant idea of their size.

They come in black (most common) dun and red, polled or horned, short legged or normal. I think these are polled and the black one closest appears to be short legged. Aren’t they pretty. πŸ™‚

My latest project, much to the horror of my darling long-suffering husband is to purchase a house-cow. Yep, a cow! πŸ™‚ Don’t have a cow, she wouldn’t be a full sized one and nor will she be a genetically twisted (albeit via breeding only) miniature cow but a genuine naturally occurring small breed cow, the Dexter. The average Dexter cow, when fully grown will stand no higher at the hip than Jasper. They stand around and just over the 1m mark although the bulls are up to 1.17m I think (44in) so they really are quite small. They’re easy calvers, easy milkers, friendly animals and make excellent lawnmowers! πŸ˜€ They also require a lot less pasture space and although we don’t quite have enough land for exclusive grass feeding we may have access to some good local and I believe organically grown hay. It’s also another reason I want to try growing mangel wurzels as they used to be used for winter and early spring food in the UK for cattle. We are big dairy people here with hot chocolates, homemade yoghurt, custard and cheese (not yet homemade) on our menu with frequency. I want to know that our dairy is organic and hence free of hormones, anti-biotics and all the rest of the garbage pumped into many commercial cows (I’m not sure how much of that is dairy cows rather than beef cows which I believe are treated with regularity in factory farming conditions but any of that gunk is too much gunk) and I also want to know that it’s cruelty free. These cows are prolific milk producers for their size and can easily feed 2 or even 3 calves so I figure that there is no need to remove the calf from mother and we can simply milk the excess. No poddy calves! πŸ˜€ I also want to know that our milk is local. Full respect to dairies around Australia but I would prefer to support any in the district and preferably my own back yard… Literally. πŸ˜€ I also want to be able to give my children raw milk, full of all the wonderful goodness that milk contains, not pasteurised to within an inch of its life. I understand that pasteurisation aims to kill nasty bugs but it also kills many beneficial ones and a single cow raised at home will be much easier to maintain in a sanitary milking condition than hundreds of them all traipsing in manure and mud. And that brings me to another great reason for keeping a cow… I want her manure for my gardens. πŸ™‚ Bonus fertiliser cakes. πŸ˜› Dexter cows are also great for their meat which is reported to be superior – a wonderful duel purpose cow. They can also be trained to pull like oxen, something that will come in handy in a post peak oil world. Any bull calves would be fattened up for organic, pasture-fed, free-range, cruelty free (need to find an on-site butcher) and utterly local beef. It’s a HUGE undertaking though, with initial costs, commitment (10 months of the year they lactate and they live for up to 20 years, even more) and we obviously need to check council rules and permits (definitely required) and whether we have or can access sufficient fodder (I do not want to grain feed except maybe as a treat) and there is also up to 10 litres of milk a day to work through. I would need to make cheese on a daily basis which would be far too much for us to eat) and I’d still have enough left over for custard, yoghurt, bechamel sauce, Orik’s bottles and all the rest. It’s very exciting to dream though and following up on information and researching is keeping the old brain box ticking.. πŸ™‚

So anyway, that’s the updates for now. There is lots happening, lots in the pipleline and many many more things on the discussion table. It’s a busy time and I’m loving it. πŸ˜€ What’s the news in your slice of paradise?


41 thoughts on “An update and things coming together

  1. Your five acre dream sounds wonderful, but then so does your 1/2 acre reality! Love the English muffins cooking on the woodstove – a perfect start to the morning πŸ™‚

  2. LyndaD says:

    OH my, you really do have it going on. Im loving your blog and following your dream variously through it. Its amazing how much you invest in other peoples blogs and share their joys and sorrows. Today it all good good good. Well done for making it happen and keeping it going. Dream Big. I grew up on a subsistence farm – if we didnt grow it, make it, or kill it , we didnt eat it or have it. All the things you are doing are firmly cemented in my childhood memories and so you have no idea what a gift you are giving your children. It will sustain through tough times when they are older. You hear of so many horror stories of people’s childhoods and then I read the posts from my blogging sisters and feel that there is hope and that life isnt all doom and gloom. I think the cows look lovely. Ive not actually seen one yet. Our house cow was always called Daisy. It was easier not to change the name even though the cow did. They were always big soft doe eyed Jerseys with warm flanks that you snuggled up to in the dead of winter. We had so many chores before school but we knew no other way. I cant get my son to take the bin out once a week. Check out my new blog, I started this week. Im in Hoppers Crossing so not that far away.

    • Yes, I hear you on blog investment. It’s so hard to get your head around the physical plans though sometimes. I should draw a map and if google earth ever provide an updated and non cloud covered photo I shall. πŸ™‚
      Your childhood sounds tough but wonderful too and I would very much like to hear about it. I was very much like your son in that I never did the dishes or took out rubbish (I still struggle with that one to be honest) and I refuse to end up like my mum who did everything for me so my kids have chores. They’re 4 and 3, the older 2 and Orik is 17 months but even he has his “jobs”. The older 2 tidy their toys away, help set the table and carry plates and they help empty or load the washing machine too. They helped me bring in the washing when it was raining the other day too. Orik’s job is door closing. If he’s around I deliberately leave the fridge, dishwasher and any cupboard doors open and he just loves closing them. Sadly he likes to close them when you’re trying to get things out of or put things into aforementioned places. πŸ˜‰ Still, it’s a place for him to start to be included.
      Daisy sounds like a good name too. A Jersey cow for us is major overkill though and even a Dexter will provide surplus. I considered Kerry for a name as Kerry is the other name for the breed but I think it will end up being a nice Irish name for a nice Irish descent lass. πŸ™‚
      Link up your blog too as I’d love to check it out. I get my chickens from a lady in Hoppers Crossing and have friends in the area too. πŸ™‚

  3. narf77 says:

    Purple carrots taste just like beetroot to me. I have been thinking about growing carrots but aside from the Queen Anne’s lace that I have scattered everywhere, the kerfuffle that we are going to have to go through to get anything approximating a straight root is barely worth it. I might hunt down some of those carrots that grow with an almost round root! Sourdough muffins! Is there NOTHING that you can’t put sourdough in? :). It will be very interesting to learn how to look after and use sourdough properly…we never managed to make anything but vinegar bricks no matter what we did. Could you let me know how to make sourdough muffins? Your starter MUST be good because there is no WAY kids would eat what Herman produced! ;). Do you have any spare kefir grains? When you do, could I beg a few grains from you? (I am starting to sound needy!). I had kefir in Western Australia and it was going really well and then I stopped drinking milk…I now know that you can alternate between milk and non dairy milk (so long as you refresh the grains in milk every third time) and I also had water kefir. I bought mine from Dom in S.A. but if you had some spare grains I would be most grateful to take them off your hands ;). We could trade for a teaspoon (barter is SO sweet πŸ˜‰ ). Once you get going with your kefir you can make cheese from the results (like making yoghurt cheese), I even aged some once. Milk, yoghurt, cheese AND manure! BONUS! Sounds like Dexter’s are the way to go (aside from the serial killer one πŸ˜‰ ). It sounds like you are as busy as the proverbial bee (no doubt a hive is somewhere in the offing?). Life with a bit of land is so full of possibilities! It will be really interesting (and no doubt entertaining) to see what you do and how you do it…kudos on your enthusiasm girl, you are making ME tired ;)…oh, by the way, Ignisa is doing a sterling job! Looks like you might have been doing what we did in our first flushes of woodfire cooking and overstoking her…just slowly feed her and don’t have her flu open full and she will simmer away and give a much more even heat. Brunhilda says “hi” πŸ™‚

    • Martin will be sending you an email from my computer as he’s at the old house tonight where my send function actually works. Anothery is coming from my phone so there is some happy reading for you there regarding Ms Audrey.

      I am pretty sure I can whack some milk kefir grains in with your Audrey who is packaged for postage Monday morning if I can get someone to mind the kids whilst I go. A few milk kefir grains should be fine. I’m about to culture my next lot in raw organic milk so although you don’t drink milk, they are about to go into the best sort of milk available at least. πŸ™‚ And given the wonder and beauty of my little spoon, consider the kefir grains my gift of thanks. πŸ™‚ According to the lady I bought them from on eBay you can use coconut milk too but she never said anything about 2 out of 3. Sounds like old leaded petrol cars that could take unleaded fills twice but then needed the lead. lol

      Just wait until you hear my confession regarding Ignisa. Gods am I an idiot. 😦 And yes, we are loading her up a fair bit but we currently only have poplar to burn, a soft wood and much of it is unseasoned so to get any heat from her… Well, at least she’s chewing through the crappy wood. Would you believe she ate about 15 logs last night? Yep, that’s how crappy a wood it is for getting heat from a fire. She did do well roasting her first chicken tonight though and is now making stock.
      I read a blog in the last week or so where the lady had rocky soil too so she dug holes scattered throughout her veggie beds, each about a foot deep and maybe half a foot or a little more wide then filled them with sandy compost and planted her carrot seeds in there. They grew long as they had the room to grow and although the compost may be a little too rich for them you could always sift some of the Serendipity farm soil in with the compost to fill the holes. The Queen Anne’s Lace won’t cause problems unless you let your carrots go to seed in the second year as they will cross pollinate. If you buy/swap carrot seeds you won’t have that issue. πŸ™‚
      Bees have been brought up in discussion (yet another new project Martin says but I am dreaming for the plans of tomorrow and executing yesterdays dreams which are todays plans. I’m always a month or a few years ahead in my dreams. Hell, this has been a dream since I was maybe 10?
      Blow a kiss to Brunhilda from us both and I hope she is keeping you warm on these short cold summer nights (that sounds so wrong). πŸ˜€

      • narf77 says:

        lol! Brunhilda is NOT that sort of stove ;). Bees are something that has been ruminating around in my belfrey along with the bats…I have been hovering around Milkwoods blog and LOVE the Warre hives. Check these plans out… and as bees are an integral part of gardening (especially veggie and food production) it’s not a bad idea to try to get some of your own, even the native bees (if you can keep them). We have been making bug houses for our bees to overwinter in. I LOVE bumble bees and had never seen them before we moved here from W.A. Brunhilda ticks along nice and slow but for the first 3 months (we got her in August 2011) we roasted the kitchen every night and sweltered away thanks to a complete lack of understanding about how to get her to work. You will get the gist of it soon, it is a bit like riding a bike…you keep falling off and suddenly you are riding like crazy and have a ridiculously overinflated sense of achievement :). Cheers for the grains. I am SO looking forwards to using kefir again (SQUEE! πŸ™‚ ) and Steve is going to make you a little rustic teaspoon to send with your salt spoon as otherwise it might get lost in the mail it is so teeny :). You will have to email me your address or somewhere to send it to and we will send it on Monday :). This sending stuff is FUN! Would you like a few parsnip seeds as well? Bev from Foodnstuff sent me enough to feed the starving Africans and you are welcome to some organic seed if you would like some πŸ™‚ Kisses right back to Ignisa and she will forgive you roasting her and will soon be rewarding you with the most gorgeous bread etc. It took us ages to stop burning everything to a crisp lol! After about a month we learned and slowly we worked with Brunhilda and now we can cook everything :). I am heading off to bed now to dream about sourdough everything and kefir I am SO excited! You just made my week πŸ™‚

        • THAT was NOT what I meant! The bit that sounded wrong was cold summer nights… Pardon me whilst I change feet. πŸ˜‰
          I would love some parsnip seeds and I only wish I could return the seedy favour by sending you some of my mangel wurzels when they arrive but I don’t think quarantine would like either of us very much on that one. 😦
          The Warre hives are the ones I would love to have and the old used honeycomb looked amazing! If bees died out we humans would be in deep deep doggy doo doo so even keeping the native ones where their honey production is insufficient for harvesting is doing it oh so right by Gaia. And I too had never seen a bumble bee until we were in Tassie. We rode motorbikes around it about 10 years back now and the bumble bee we saw was on Lake Repulse (whoever would name such a pretty place Repulse?!).
          Sleep well. I too am off to bed very soon. I was up til 3:15 last night with insomnia so your early to bed and early to rise practice might well be on the cards for me. I feel wrecked!

          • narf77 says:

            Lol I was up just on an hour after you went to bed! You sleep well too…I think your mind works too fast…it sprints around inside your head and keeps you awake (like bees buzzing in your ears). My mind doesn’t get a chance to buzz any more…I head, zombie like, to bed and by the time I drop my head onto the pillow I am out like a light…hard work and early mornings makes me a tired chicky πŸ˜‰ have a great sunday and enjoy your day with your family πŸ™‚

            • lol, I FINALLY made it to bed at 11:30, what with a child having 3 lots of night terrors in 1 night and having to get him up to calm down, then I ended up clearing up my filthy kitchen. I finally got to sleep but I can’t remember if Orik woke twice or thrice but I debated getting up at 5:30 and just couldn’t do it. I was woken by the older 2 climbing into bed with me at 7 though so not sure the extra 90 minutes counted for much. So, not to turn my exhausted butt into a productive person today. πŸ™‚ Porridge and hot chocolates are helping. πŸ˜€
              And yes, you’re spot on. My brain wakes up and starts to race about 8:30 or so. I come up with my wildest schemes and most hair-brained plans (like moving to the country for starters) around 11pm. πŸ˜€

              • narf77 says:

                Poor Martin! Does he live in the shed?! ;). You must run on nervous energy! I would be frazzled beyond belief, but then I was pretty much the same when my kids were all small…they DO grow up eventually and then it is fun to make “them” wait for “you” ;). You can also earn bonus embarassment points when they are older (mum’s know the right buttons to push…”goes BOTH WAYS KIDS!” πŸ˜‰ ). Time you got some sleep young lady before you dissolve! Just sent you an email about the new spoon and needing your address. Let me know ASAP so we can send your spoons ok? Cheers πŸ™‚

                • Martin stayed at the old house last night to finish clearing up the last of our stuff so it was me and the little people last night.
                  And yes mum, I shall be in bed early tonight. It’s been an emotional day not improved by being beyond exhausted and I have a dodgy throat so I’m downing probiotic foods and gargling apple cider vinegar.

                  I shall email you an address right away. πŸ™‚

                  • narf77 says:

                    Have this concoction that my kids drink whenever they feel a cold coming on…mix some chilli powder, some ginger (ground or fresh preferably), mash some garlic and steep it with lemon juice and honey and they swear by it…I swear OFF it! I hope you aren’t getting the dreaded Northern Lurgy that I am reading about… everyone in the U.K and the U.S. seems to have had it :(. I know that we are going to cop it this winter but have been trying to boost my immune system (that kefir will help πŸ˜‰ ) to minimise it. Might have to start chugging the kids cure-all…remember, like my last post said “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” πŸ˜‰

                    • I’ve tried that muck and NEVAH AGAIN! EVAH! Bleugh. Apart from tasting foul it burned the crap out of my mouth. I think I’d rather be sick! lol
                      I think it’s just my body shutting down a bit due to exhaustion so planning for a very early night tonight. πŸ™‚ I’ll be as right as rain in the morning.

                    • narf77 says:

                      It’s amazing how good a few good nights sleep and a reasonable amount of water can make you feel. Most of us are dehydrated and when we get a cold we really need to drink more. Lots of herbal teas, fresh juices (although I prefer smoothies now as you get all the fibre as well), thinner soups (miso soup is my favourite for the added probiotics) and just keep ladling in the Vitamin C by eating copious quantities of oranges and mangoes…actually…try going to a tropical island and picking them straight from the tree…I am sure your cold will take second fiddle ;). Take that good book and you are laughing! πŸ™‚

                    • Well I did get to bed a little earlier (before 11) and I’m feeling vaguely human again (MUST teach Orik to sleep through!) Nettle tea is a biggun here as it’s like super vitamins. I also add red clover, chamomile and oat straw for their various properties. Should make me a pot now. πŸ™‚
                      The cold is all but gone – really it was just a dodgy throat anyway and it’s eased dramatically. Love gargling with apple cider vinegar in the morning and I hit it with kefir and raw milk all day long too. the good stuff!

                    • narf77 says:

                      Just downed a green smoothie with home grown spinach (thought it was supposed to go to seed in summer? Mine is going gangbusters and showing no signs of wanting to give up the ghost…), young coconut water (Steve bought me one πŸ™‚ ), young coconut meat, a spoonful of powdered ginger (Steve read “garlic” instead of “ginger” on the shopping list… not too sure if I am ready for a green smoothie with garlic yet! That is for advanced class methinks!) and a couple of frozen nana’s and a handful of ice blended to smooth creamy perfection and I won’t need anything else till tea time :). Glad it was just a minor throat and keep drinking that tea…the more liquid you can get into your digestive system the less havoc the wee beasties can wreak when they are inside…flush them out (like pirates on a raft πŸ˜‰ ). I am going to wait for Steve the fisherman (this morning Steve the shopper and this afternoon Steve the fisherman…) to get in and then am going to mow the lawns so that the chooks can roll in the clippings. They have stopped laying eggs…15 chooks and not a bloody cackleberry to be seen :(. I guess they are on strike and duck has been off the lay too…from glut to gone in one fell swoop. I think they are protesting their incarceration but bollocks to that! I am hurling in all sorts of things but they are holding their eggs in till I release them… I can see it is going to come down to a battle of wits… wish me luck, I am going to need it! Oh, almost forgot… Steve posted off your spoons and seeds today so you should see them soon πŸ™‚

                    • Thanks Steve. Your kefir and Audrey are ready to go and the dishcloth is right on half way so hopefully I can get it finished. Martin is going to post it off tomorrow.
                      Start that lawnmower right beside your chooks – the fright might shock them back into production. πŸ˜›
                      By the way, check your email. πŸ˜‰

                    • narf77 says:

                      I was knackered yesterday and went to bed early…I just checked our email and met Juliette πŸ™‚ Thank you SO much rabid πŸ™‚ I am starting to twitch with anticipation with the possibilities of Juliette and her progeny and will duly pass on some of her offspring to people over here who are interested in some and so your generosity will spread through our local community :). Cheers for the dishcloth and Steve just told me that you sent a PDF? I just went to check and it’s awesome! I have been trawling the net looking for recipes but it looks like I probably won’t need half of the recipes that I hunted for thanks to the pdf :). I am going to make the tastiest vinegar bricks this side of the peacos! ;). The chooks are being petulant. They are on strike. We have 15 chooks and 5 are clucky, 3 are on mum duties and that leaves 7 that are perfectly able to lay so I am not sure why they aren’t. Big Yin is happy because he can watch them all, all of the time and it’s not like they look sad…they are dust bathing and they get nice fresh water (lots of it) every day, they have agapanthus etc. to hide in and lay in and plenty of food, they are just pining for their freedom. “Freedom is overrated chooks!” ;). Have a wonderful day today Jessie and here’s hoping the kids let you sleep last night and you don’t have to go through your day like a zombie πŸ˜‰

                    • You WILL be proud of me. I was in bed before 11 (I’m working on it πŸ˜‰ ) and I’ve set my alarm for 6:45. I was up just after 7 so I’m over an hour ahead of schedule this morning already. If I can talk Martin into a goat or cow the milking will mostly be my responsibility so I’ll have to be up early to sort out the milking, kids breakfasts and a school run over the next few years. I’m heading towards a 6:30 wake up. Orik only woke once last night which was lovely so I have had sleep. I feel like a train wreck but that’s just becauseI had nearly enough sleep as opposed to seriously deficient. πŸ˜€

                    • narf77 says:

                      When daylight savings finishes I am going to keep getting up at “5am” (which will then be 4am) so that I can have 3 whole hours to myself. You can get seriously addicted to those early morning hours and I have become one of those annoying people who swap sides. I dare say I will have to go to bed at 8.30pm but who cares! I know it is hard with kids in the “early years” but soon you will relish the early morning when you can get yourself organised up the wazoo for the day and everything is sorted out. I reacon you have an easier task on your hands getting a goat out of Martin. You can pick one up for $150 for a good milker, they are easier to feed, very unfussy with what they eat, they are very charismatic and clever and a more manageable size. Not as much milk but better if you have any children that may be lactose intolerant as goat’s milk is more easily tolerated and “goats milk cheese!!!!” I am thinking about getting a couple of female goats to eat the grass down on the back 2 blocks, or I might go with my original idea of getting a few geese and putting in a pond down the front of the block (maybe even a dam πŸ˜‰ ). You will soon get used to having actual sleep…its a very underrated thing ;). Did you get a manual with Ignisa by the way? Steve realised why your bread was burnt on the top and knows how to fix the problem. We found a site where we downloaded a manual and “how to” for all of our stoves. Steve relied on it in our early days and it has some very useful info… if you didn’t get a manual, here’s where we got that manual…

                      Click to access Thermalux%20Booklet%20LR.pdf

                      The plumber that installed our stove (we got a water jacket with ours…) told us that the thing that we thought was a “baking tray” was actually a heat deflector shield. He said that you put it on the top shelf when you are baking to deflect the heat from the top of the stove which would appear to be what is happening to your bread. Steve also said if you want to bake you might have to experiment a bit by not having as big a fire…if you just want your room to be heated boost it up but for cooking you have to have the firebox simmering. You can also slightly open the oven door if you are baking bread to reduce the heat…we do that a bit ;). Don’t try that with cakes though! Anyway, that manual (better than the one that the manufacturer supplied) is a goodn’

                    • I think the thing that may well be the clincher with keeping a goat is that they eat poplars and hawthorn, both of which have taken this place over like noxious weeds! Goats aren’t much on eating the grass to be honest so I’d go ducks and geese with your pond/dam. I’ve been hitting up different breeds and researching this morning as the reality is we would need to move fairly fast to get a goat in 2013 – I want them (they need a friend) BEFORE they kid so we can get to know each other, work out how the food thing works and get us all working together before having milking to deal with too. That gives us maybe 4 months, or 3?
                      Ok, confession time and you are going to need to be sitting somewhere that you can’t fall off laughing… The 350 that Ignisa was baking at the other day was Farenheit! Bread needs to be up to 400F or 200C to bake properly so it’s just that heat reflection thingy that Steve mentioned. *blush* How embarrassment! I DO have a manual and I need to sit and read it but we still have things to move up, boxes to our eyeballs and so much else going on that I just haven’t got there yet. I wasn’t anticipating needing to until somewhere in March or April to be perfectly honest.
                      Thanks for the link too. Ignisa is also a Thermalux so I’m sure that will help a lot.
                      By the way, Martin has a little yellow box he will be express posting over to you today. πŸ˜€ It should be yours no later than Thursday and more likely tomorrow (oh what faith I have in Aus Post. πŸ˜‰ ). I had been planning to send some rye flour over too but figured that might cause customs to balk so sorry ’bout that. I hope you have some rye flour to feed her with. (Rye is easiest and works best).
                      Not sure I could ever do 5am wake ups. I used to do 5:45 right through year 12 for starting school at 8 (I had to train, bus then walk to get there) and I HATED it. That was also 17 years ago when I was in year 12 (holy crap!!!) and pre-kids so… But I can well appreciate time alone to do stuff and it will be necessary with a ruminant or 2 anyway.

                    • narf77 says:

                      I knew about the “them” with goats but wanted to work up to “them” with Martin ;). They definately love being with others and are much smarter and more affectionate than most people give them credit for. I would MUCH rather have goats than sheep. We didn’t bother with our manual for Brunhilda…”who needs a steenkin’ manual, we are penniless heepies…” and all that and we burned more than we ate in the first few months. We burned spongecakes, we burned bread, we actually completely forgot about a loaf of bread that was in the second oven as we baked 4 rather than our usual 3 and when we started cranking Brunhilda up the next night (after her being on all day mind you!) we started to get a real burnt smell…we couldn’t work out where it was coming from because we hadn’t put anything in her yet! I thought it might be something like a wedge that had fallen off a tray (we ate a LOT of wedges as they are gorgeous done in the wood fired oven πŸ˜‰ ) but nope…we were hunting around when the smoke started billowing out of the second oven and we both remembered the loaf, the ex-loaf, at the same time and spent the next hour trying to exinguish the loaf, get the stupid fire alarm to stop screaming, calm the now panicking dog and the next week trying to stop the house smelling like burnt toast on steroids…you have NO need to be embarassed πŸ˜‰
                      I agree with you about the rye flour, we don’t want customs to have anything to be suspicious about and we can get rye berries from Beaconsfield in a little health food shop and I can grind my own uber fresh flour for Audrey in the dry goblet of my vitamix. Nothing but the best for Audrey! I will plop the kefir grains immediately into some non homogenised milk (the best I can do), I might even be able to get some Ashgrove milk for them which is a local gourmet milk…whatever I get I will care for them like the babies that they are :). I am SO excited about working with Audrey and “The babies” and don’t mind being a part time slave to them so long as I can negotiate ANYTHING other than vinegar bricks! ;). I might need to ask you a few questions about prepping and baking and any peculiarities to do with it but give Martin a big hug from me πŸ™‚

                    • Kefir and sourdough are wonderful masters though as they give so very much back. πŸ™‚ I cannot but recommend the no knead bread from the GNOWFGLINS book which is brilliance itself. Keeping Bertha and the bread in the fridge means that should I desire bread I can pull out the tub, tip out what I need into the bread tin, chuck it in the oven and turn it on. 70 minutes later and I take a fresh loaf from the oven. It is really that simple.
                      As for goatS, yeah, I’ve started adding the ‘s’ on the end in conversation. Scares the heck out of me to be honest – HUGE responsibility – but I reckon we might well be ready for it. I got through most of the housework today AND managed some unpacking and sundry, plus chooks, a little gardening and it’s just gone 6:30. Kids bathed and eating so I am eagerly anticipating a little more gardening, some knitting then hopefully a mega early night.

                    • narf77 says:

                      Lol…I think I would hide underneath the bedclothes hyperventilating if I had the workload that you have! Today, Steve and I walked the dogs for an hour and a half, we then carted some ex-fish farm netting and dumped it from the trailer to a communal pile and then I watered the veggie garden and Steve made a spoon. After that we cleared out the pantry cupboard in the spare room, hand shredded a lot of ancient prehistoric documents that we had been keeping for no reason (I ask you…WHO keeps old Coles and Woolies dockets?!!!) and then it was time to make tea (Steve made potato and cheese sausage rolls that he said were scrumptious and I had veggie lentil soup) and here we are…pretty much 1/200th of what YOU had to do but still tired πŸ˜‰

  4. Jenny says:

    I totally understand having a vision and then having reality. I’ve always wanted a garden that looked like a coffee table book, but we’re learning that those aren’t necessarily functional. My reality at this point is floating row covers, plastic weighted down by cement blocks and pvc pipes. The beauty in it though is that it is going to provide our food and I’m learning to look at that. I’m excited to hear more about leeks. I love leeks but haven’t had much luck with them over here. Not sure of our climate is friendly towards them. Your oven is gorgeous!!

  5. […] Vegetable Garden BedsVegetable Garden Basics: How to Grow PotatoesLocal Farmer: Gary Hands, Kookaburra OrganicsAn update and things coming together […]

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story about the chicken. I’m sure it will encourage others to get so much more from their food too. It is the true way to honour the animal. Love everything you are doing and sharing.

  7. […] YOU; THANK YOU; THANK YOU!” to Jessie from the wonderful “Good life” blogΒ Jessie sent me some of her sourdough starter that she makes her gorgeous loaves with along with […]

  8. Pam Woodgate says:

    Hi there, I also live in Ballan (on the other side of the Fwy off Daylesford Rd) and have been following your blog for a little while. We have a fair bit of spare fire wood (mostly old redgum fence posts and pailings) and I was wondering if you wanted to take it for your fire? There is probably a 6×4 trailer load and it’s yours if want it!

    • :O Oh my goodness Pam! THANK YOU! My husband and I are blown away by your offer and we would love it! Thank you again! πŸ˜€
      I would also love to meet another Ballanite as we only know a few people in town so far. πŸ™‚

  9. Right, so there is an expectation for US to go! πŸ˜‰

  10. Dot says:

    Hi there, have recently discovered your blog which I am thoroughly enjoying. I wanted to send a private message to you but can’t see a way to do that. Just wanted to say that I’ve had a similar type of wood fired heater/stove for 30 years and when I saw that you had put the shelves around it with all the paper and wood I was quite alarmed. I know those heaters can get extremely hot and I’d be worried about having all that combustible gear so close. It looks fabulous but worries me. Just thought I’d mention it. Maybe take note of how hot the shelves get when your fire is roaring away. Sorry to be an alarmist. Please feel free to delete this message if you like. Best wishes.

    • Hi Dot, Welcome! πŸ˜€
      I’ve got Ignisa burning away at the moment. She was lit to help with my bottling. I’ve just touched the shelves and there is barely any warmth on them at all! I’d not though they would be too warm as the stove is sitting nearly a foot away from the wall whereas the shelves are against the wall but I was surprised at just how little heat was there. Barely any! πŸ™‚
      I hadn’t really thought about the paper being there. It had been a convenient place to put it when we’d done a clean up so thanks for the warning and it will be moved as soon as we can find an alternative home for it. πŸ™‚

  11. compostwoman says:

    Wow, you have been very busy πŸ™‚ I am so impressed with all the hard work you have put in, especially the planting and the stove and …and …well the list is a very long one. I particulaly like your raised beds – and the House cow is something I really envy you – I have always wanted one but Compostman was not keen…
    Best of luck with all the new ventures.

    Cw xxx

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